Positive vibes energised Karachi’s Emaar Oceanfront on Sunday as people of all ages came together in support of the 7th Special Olympics Pakistan (SOP) Unified Marathon 2022, giving intellectually disabled people an opportunity to channel their gifts and abilities in sports.
Just at the crack of dawn, a spirited crowd filled up the venue for the half marathon, which was the first race to kick-off at 7am with a loud cheer and confetti in the air.
“I am visiting from New York and I am here at the event today with my sister and my nephew who participate almost every year”, Shahab told Dawn.com. “This is a great platform that brings families and friends together to celebrate our children and lift their spirits.”
The race categories were 1km, 5km, 10 km and a half marathon (21 km).
Faysal Islami’s President and CEO Yousaf Hussain inaugurated the 1km race. “Faysal Bank has been sponsoring this event for the last three years and are very happy to be here this year also,” he said as he stood in a crowd of participants warming up for the 1km race.
“Being a major Islamic bank of the country, we fully support the cause of diversity and inclusion of all,” he said, adding: “our compassion is our gift.”
Hussain explained that persons with disabilities normally face severe limitations while accessing financial services offered by financial institutions because of a combination of physical constraints and perceptions about their abilities to handle financial matters.
In an effort to overcome these issues, the government has encouraged all banks in the country to make access to banking easy and convenient for people with disabilities through supportive physical infrastructure, accessible products and services, assistive technologies, and supportive staff interactions.
In line with the State Bank of Pakistan’s priority to improve socio-economic life of the special persons and improve their accessibility, many banks in Pakistan, including Faysal Islami, have endeavoured to make their branches wheelchair-friendly and are also working to make their form and documents reader-friendly for people with sight disabilities.
Supporters along the race track cheered the participants on with screams of motivation and encouragement.
SOP’s founder and chairperson, Ronak Lakhani said: “One can tell that the sheer energy here encapsulates everything the event was meant to resonate: diversity, equality and inclusion.”